The bells of summer have tolled

By TIM BEELAND,

The bells of summer have tolled once again. School’s back in session and for the first time in over 20 years I don’t have a dog in the race. Or, make that a child. I do, however, still have a wife working in the classroom.
It is strange, this back to school column writing thing. Times have definitely changed since that big yellow school bus rolled around our circle and a little munchkin of a daughter climbed up the steps, all proud and pretty, on her way to kindergarten.
Her mother and I watched and waved as the bus rolled out of site with baby girl on board and all her stuff for day one of what would be a lot of years of day ones of school. It was kind of sad. One of those sad/glad things where you’re proud and a little melancholy at the same time.
Kindergarten turned to first grade to second, third, fourth, fifth and on, and on, and on, and we chased buses, caught buses, missed buses and cussed buses all in our faithful effort not to be late for school. My daughter, bless her soul, could never bear to be late for school. Too embarrassing, to be for sure!
For me it was just the opposite. Not an embarrassed bone in this old battered body. It is safe to say that my semi-shy — back in the day — daughter was just making up for her daddy’s days of straggling into class just as close to late as one could possibly get. Sometimes too close for comfort to the old back side if you know what I mean. Coach Creeper Nelson could jack a young man’s behind off the ground with that paddle of his.  I do admit, however, that I felt it was worth it to get in the proper dose of socializing before class when I was a kid. That part still exists, I betcha!
There has been a flurry of activity at the schools in the last couple of weeks with teachers getting their classrooms ready and with the various extracurricular folks already at work. Football practice, and band practice, and cheerleader practice, and the likes under a blistering hot sun. I don’t miss that.
Anyway, there are a bunch more of them out there this week. Kids on the street sides waiting on buses. Kids in cars hauling more kids in their cars to school with them. Teachers and parents and more kids and kids and kids.
Keep an eye out for them. You never know when one might dash out from behind a tree to jump on the bus or dash off the bus to jump behind a tree. Some will be late and hurrying a little too fast on a rain-dampened roadway.
Some of them might be first-time drivers strutting their stuff a little and some of them might be stressed-out parents trying their best to drop off everyone at all the right places at just the right times.
So, do be careful out there. Be careful out there all the time, but especially these first couple weeks of school.
And, please, please, please do not pass stopped school buses no matter how big of a hurry you are in — no matter how late you are for work.
In addition, as parents, try to keep your cool at the ball games, and with the teachers, and with your students, and all that homework, and all those science projects, and reading projects, and all those other projects that can sometimes be a little overwhelming.  A lot overwhelming!
You teachers have a little sympathy for the parents, too. They don’t always understand the directions or the reasoning behind your requests — I sure know I didn’t — but I assure you they are trying. Some of them anyway. Having had a teacher sleeping beside me at night for the last 36 years, I do get to look at things from both sides. Sometimes it is hard to see, much less understand,  but I do feel your pain.
You kids study hard, practice hard and play hard.  Eat right, get plenty of sleep and don’t stay out late at night and make your parents worry.
The countdown is on. The pizza and spaghetti and fried chicken and green beans and french fries and cookies and cake are waiting in the cafeteria. The floors are waxed, the schedules prepared and the tardy slips ready to be filled out. The mercury is up, it’s August in Mississippi and school is once again in session.
Here’s hoping everyone has a great year.
Tim Beeland can be reached by e-mail at tbeeland@sctonline.net.

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